CPM S35VN Steel: Full Details And Review

CPM S35VN Knife Steel Featured Image

As a knife enthusiast, I’m always on the lookout for high-quality blade materials that can elevate my collection and enhance my cutting experience.

One steel that has caught my attention is CPM S35VN. Developed by Crucible Industries and Chris Reeve, this premium knife steel is designed specifically for knife making, offering an impressive combination of toughness, edge retention, and corrosion resistance.

I’ve got a few different knives that use this steel and have been very pleased with it over the years.  Let’s look at the details about what makes this a good steel for your next knife.

What is CPM S35VN Steel? 

CPM S35VN steel, or Crucible Particle Metallurgy S35VN, is a premium stainless steel designed specifically for use in high-end knives and cutting tools.

Developed by Crucible Industries in collaboration with renowned knife-maker Chris Reeve, this steel is an evolution of the earlier CPM S30V steel, offering improved toughness, edge retention, and ease of sharpening.

CPM S35VN is known for its excellent combination of strength, corrosion resistance, and durability, making it a top choice for many knife enthusiasts and manufacturers. 

Composition and Properties of S35VN Knife Steel

CPMS35VN Composition

The chemical composition of CPM S35VN steel is as follows: 

Carbon (C)1.38%
Chromium (Cr)14.00%
Vanadium (V)3.00%
Molybdenum (Mo)2.00%
Niobium (Nb)0.50%

CPM S35VN Steel Properties

The unique combination of elements in CPM S35VN steel results in a material that offers a fine balance of desirable properties: 

  • Edge Retention: The high carbon and vanadium content gives the steel excellent edge retention, meaning it stays sharp for longer periods of use.
  • Toughness: With the addition of niobium, CPM S35VN has increased toughness compared to its predecessor, making it less prone to chipping and breaking.
  • Corrosion Resistance: The 14% chromium content provides a high level of corrosion resistance, making it suitable for use in various environments and conditions.
  • Sharpenability: Despite its high hardness, CPM S35VN steel is relatively easy to sharpen compared to other high-performance steels.

CPM S35VN steel offers an exceptional balance of edge retention, toughness, corrosion resistance, and sharpenability, making it a popular choice for high-end knives and cutting tools.

The History of CPM S35VN Steel 

CPM S35VN steel was developed in 2009 by Crucible Industries in collaboration with Chris Reeve, a renowned knife maker. It is an upgraded version of S30V steel, which was also a result of a collaboration between Crucible Industries and Chris Reeve.

The primary goal of this upgrade was to improve the toughness and ease of sharpening, while maintaining the excellent wear resistance and corrosion resistance of its predecessor.

Benefits and Drawbacks of CPM S35VN Steel 

As with any material, CPM S35VN steel comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Understanding these aspects will help in making an informed decision when choosing a knife made of this steel. Let’s dive into some of the key advantages and disadvantages. 


  • Excellent Edge Retention: CPM S35VN steel is known for its ability to maintain a sharp edge for long periods, reducing the need for frequent sharpening.
  • Great Corrosion Resistance: The steel’s chemical composition enhances its resistance to rust and corrosion, making it suitable for use in various environments.
  • Good Toughness: S35VN offers a balanced level of toughness, allowing it to withstand the rigors of daily use without chipping or breaking.
  • Easy to Sharpen: Despite its excellent edge retention, CPM S35VN steel is relatively easy to sharpen when needed, making it a user-friendly choice for knife enthusiasts.


  • Higher Cost: CPM S35VN steel is typically more expensive than other common knife steels, which may be a concern for budget-conscious buyers.
  • Not as Tough as Some Alternatives: While S35VN offers good toughness, it may not be the best choice for applications that require extreme durability and abuse resistance.

CPM S35VN Steel vs Other Steels 

When it comes to comparing CPM S35VN steel to other blade steels, there are a few closely related steels that stand out. Let’s take a look at how S35VN stacks up against these popular choices: 

CPM S35VN vs CPM S30V 

CPM S30V is S35VN’s predecessor and has a similar chemical composition. However, S35VN contains added niobium, which improves its toughness and ease of sharpening. While S30V is still an excellent steel, S35VN is considered an upgrade with its better overall performance. 

CPM S35VN vs VG-10 

VG-10 is a popular Japanese stainless steel known for its excellent edge retention and corrosion resistance. Although S35VN has a slightly lower edge retention than VG-10, it compensates with better toughness and easier sharpening. Both steels are great choices, but S35VN is generally considered more well-rounded. 

CPM S35VN vs CPM 20CV 

CPM 20CV is a high-end stainless steel offering exceptional edge retention and corrosion resistance. While S35VN has lower edge retention and corrosion resistance compared to 20CV, it boasts superior toughness and ease of sharpening. If toughness is a priority, S35VN is the better choice, but for ultimate edge retention and corrosion resistance, 20CV is the way to go. 

CPM S35VN vs 5Cr15MoV 

5Cr15MoV is an affordable Chinese stainless steel with decent edge retention, corrosion resistance, and ease of sharpening. However, it falls short in comparison to S35VN in terms of overall performance. S35VN offers better edge retention, toughness, and corrosion resistance, making it a superior choice for high-quality knives. 

In conclusion, CPM S35VN steel offers a great balance of edge retention, toughness, corrosion resistance, and ease of sharpening. While it may not be the absolute best in any single category, its well-rounded characteristics make it a popular choice for a wide range of knife applications.

Frequently Asked Questions About S35VN Knife Steel

What is the hardness of CPM S35VN steel? 

The hardness of CPM S35VN steel typically ranges from 58-61 HRC (Rockwell Hardness Scale). This level of hardness allows for a good balance between edge retention, toughness, and ease of sharpening. 

What is the edge retention of CPM S35VN steel? 

CPM S35VN steel is known for its excellent edge retention. Thanks to its fine grain structure and well-balanced properties, it maintains a sharp edge for a long time, making it ideal for various cutting tasks. 

What is the corrosion resistance of CPM S35VN steel? 

CPM S35VN steel offers impressive corrosion resistance due to its high chromium content. This steel is highly resistant to rust, which makes it suitable for use in wet environments and for those who require low maintenance knives. 

Can CPM S35VN steel be sharpened easily? 

Yes, CPM S35VN steel can be sharpened relatively easily compared to other high-hardness steels. Its balanced properties allow for straightforward sharpening, and it can be brought back to a razor-sharp edge without too much difficulty. 

What is the price range of knives made with CPM S35VN steel? 

The price range of knives made with CPM S35VN steel varies depending on other factors such as the brand, design, and materials used in the handle. However, due to the premium quality of S35VN steel, these knives usually fall within the mid to high price range. 

What are some popular knife brands that use CPM S35VN steel for their blades? 

Several well-known knife brands use CPM S35VN steel for their blades, including: 

  • Chris Reeve Knives
  • Spyderco
  • Benchmade
  • Zero Tolerance
  • Bark River Knives

CPM S35VN Stainless Steel Conclusion

In conclusion, CPM S35VN steel is a high-quality, well-rounded choice for knife enthusiasts and makers alike. Its impressive balance of durability, corrosion resistance, and edge retention makes it a popular choice for various applications.

Whether you’re a professional chef, outdoorsman, or simply a knife aficionado, S35VN steel can provide you with a long-lasting, reliable blade that’s up to the task.